Skip to main content

Morison Lectures.—Lecture IV

  • John Macpherson

In the two previous lectures (2) of this course the subject of “Variation in its Relation to the Origin of Physical Malformations, of Congenital Mental Defect, and of the Neuroses, such as Epilepsy, Hysteria, and Alcoholism,” was considered. The correlation between congenital malformation and congenital mental defect was pointed out. The relation of the neuroses to one another, their heredity, and their distribution throughout mankind of all races, was insisted on. It was also shown that all these affections are genetic in origin and independent of so-called causes or influences due to the environment. For the environment is not, and cannot be, constant while the manifestations in question are, so far as we know, universal. It was further shown that congenital malformation and congenital mental defect are due to inherent processes, the nature of which is at present unknown, acting within the fertilised ovum. It is, moreover, certain that these processes must be independent of the environment of the elements contributed by either parent, of the immediate state of health of the parents or, with certain exceptions such as injuries or special disease, of the uterine environment. It is not asserted that diseases affecting the mother or even, on rare occasions, specific affections of the father may not deleteriously influence the growing embryo in utero. The fact remains, however, that in the majority of instances these defects are hereditary, that they may pass over several members of the same family, and in the case of animals over several members of the same litter—nay, even that they pass over one or more generations to re-appear in a succeeding one. In face of such facts, it is useless to speculate upon physical causes while the great innate cause remains obscure.

Hide All

(1) Delivered before the Royal Collece of Physicians, Edinburgh, January 3Oth, 1905.—

(2) Delivered before the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh, February, 1904.—

(3) Journal of Menial Science.—

(4) Archiv de Med., 1892, and Annal. Med. Psychol., 1894, 1903-4.—

(5) Dr. Bruce's classification is different from the one used by me.—

(6) Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, vol. xxviii, New York, 1901.—

(7) Jeandelize, L'Insuffisance Thyroidienne, Paris, 1903; Bruce, Journal of Mental Science, 1895 ; Easterbrook, Brit. Med. Journ., 1900.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 2 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 8 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 19th February 2018 - 19th March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Morison Lectures.—Lecture IV

  • John Macpherson
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *